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Werewolves of War
D.W. Hall
Narrated by Colby Elliott
Audible, 1 hour, 2 minutes

Werewolves of War
D.W. Hall
D.W. Hall (Desmond Winter Hall) was born in Sydney, Australia in 1911. He wrote many books and stories with Harry Bates under such names as Anthony Gilmore and H.G. Winter. Perhaps his best known work is the Hawk Carse series. He died on the 28th of October, 1992.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven Brandt

It's 1938, and America is at war. This is not the war in Europe that we are all familiar with, however. The United Slav Army, in a surprise attack on the American west coast, quickly gained a large foothold, encompassing most of California, and massacring the entire population of San Francisco in the process. The beleaguered American forces are barely hanging on against the overwhelming technology of the Slavs, but a new secret weapon just might turn the tide.

The Slavs are well-equipped, and well-organized. In fact, they always seem to know just when and where the American forces are going to attack. American flying ace, Captain Derek Lance, leader of a fighter squadron dubbed the "Werewolves of War," is convinced that there is a spy at work -- it's the only explanation. Every time he leads his squad into battle, the enemy is waiting with their own secret weapon, the disintegrating flame, a technology that still baffles American scientists. And the American planes fall by the dozen.

Lance and his superior officers can sense a major offensive coming, and it seems inevitable that the battered remnants of the American forces will be overrun. But the scientists have just completed a new weapon and the newly developed "flying torpedoes" are able to home in on an electronic beacon and carry enough destructive force to level an entire city. Now they have arrived at the front lines and there is a dangerous and delicate plan which will almost surely break the enemy's back if it can be pulled off. On what will almost surely be a suicide mission, Captain Lance and an unlikely companion must fly behind enemy lines, activate a beacon, and protect it until the torpedoes can be sent in. It just might work, unless, of course, the spy manages to catch wind of the plan and radio it back to his superiors.

D.W. Hall wrote Werewolves of War in 1931 and it was originally published in the February 1931 issue of Astounding Stories. It's always fun to read old stories like this, stories that are futuristic at the time, that we can look back on and see how accurately the author was able to predict the future. In this case, I was rather impressed at Hall's flying torpedoes, which sound a lot like our modern-day guided missiles, and with the destructive force of an atomic bomb fifteen years before the Manhattan Project. His other "inventions" like the disintegrating flame, acid bullets and incendiary bullets, have not been realized as far as I know, but I like them and the sort of steam-punk quality that they possess.

This story reminds me a lot of some of L. Ron Hubbard's work of the same period. Hubbard wrote a lot of short fiction involving wars between different countries taking place in different parts of the world that didn't necessarily reflect historical events. The obvious difference between Hubbard and Hall is that while Hubbard's stories are more light-hearted in tone, Hall takes a slightly darker approach, lending a bit more credibility to the story. Personally, I enjoy both styles and am always glad at any chance to read the fiction of this era. I hope that the resurrection of this type of fiction becomes a trend in the audiobook industry.

Narrator Colby Elliott did a good job as usual. His voice always sounds good and he does pretty decent voices for the characters. If I remember right, there was only one character in Werewolves of War that had a foreign accent. It was an airplane mechanic with a comical English-Cockney dialect, but Elliott handled it well.

Werewolves of War is short, only a little over an hour long, but very much worth a listen. There was a lot of good fiction published in the 30s and 40s, of which this is a prime example. I hope to see lots more of it in the near future.

Copyright © 2011 Steven Brandt

Steven Brandt spends most of his waking hours listening to audiobooks and reviewing them for his blog, Audiobook Heaven. When not reading or reviewing, Steven is usually playing the saxophone for the entertainment and amusement of his family.

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